ABC’S Jon Karl Rips White House on Syria Policy

'Isn’t It Time to Acknowledge The President’s Syria Policy is an Absolute Failure?'

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ABC’s Jon Karl took White House Press Secretary Jay Carney to task Wednesday, asking whether it is time to acknowledge that President Obama’s policy towards Syria has been a total failure thus far.

“Isn’t it time to acknowledge that when it comes to easing the humanitarian crisis in Syria, that the President’s policy has been an absolute failure?” Karl asked after Carney defended the President’s position of non-engagement in Syria.

Carney responded that the United States has provided more humanitarian aid to Syria than any other country, but Karl fired back, “That’s admirable, but what I’m talking about is in terms of ending the crisis within Syria. The crisis has gotten worse.”

“Assad’s grip on power has not weakened at all over the past year,” Karl continued. “And we have our own top intelligence officer [James Clapper] saying it’s an apocalyptic disaster. How is that anything but a failure?”

Carney could only respond that the crisis in Syria is indeed a crisis, and the only solution to the “stalemate” was a diplomatically negotiated solution.

Below is a full transcript of the exchange:

JON KARL: Can I just follow up on that? I mean, acknowledging that there may not be a better policy out there right now — certainly maybe that there could be policies that it would be worse — isn’t it time to acknowledge that when it comes to easing the humanitarian crisis in Syria, that the president’s policy has been an absolutely failure? I mean, you had the director of National Intelligence tell Congress that the situation on the ground was an apocalyptic disaster. How can we look at the policy toward Syria as anything other than a failure?

MR. CARNEY: John, we provide more humanitarian aid to the Syrian people than any other nation on earth. And we are —

(Cross talk.)

KARL: — admirable, but what I’m talking about is in terms of ending the crisis within Syria. The crisis has gotten worse. Assad’s grip on power has not weakened at all over the past year. And we have our own top intelligence officer saying it’s an apocalyptic disaster. How is that anything but a failure?

MR. CARNEY: The crisis in Syria is a crisis. The circumstances on the ground are horrific. That is why we have to bring the parties together to try to compel them towards a negotiated political settlement, because there isn’t a military solution here. The Assad regime is not going to win militarily. And the Assad — the opposition, the Syrian people, are not going to abide by a future in which Assad continues to govern them.

That creates a stalemate. And that’s why it has to be negotiated. There has to be — based on the Geneva principles, there has to be a negotiated political settlement. There is no question that the circumstances on the ground are terrible, and they are exacerbated by a failure of those countries who could help improve the humanitarian situation on the ground, from taking action to do that through the United Nations Security Council. So we’re going to continue to press for that kind of action, we’re going to continue to provide assistance to the opposition, and we’re going to continue to be the leader in providing humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people.

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